Wednesday, July 8

Mountain Blackstone

A dapper little man with snow-white hair and an almost boyish face, despite his 80 years, sits at his office desk here every weekday practicing law and expounding on the principles of jurisprudence. In his remarkable memory, there is a library of case histories and a storehouse of Kentucky lore.

He is the only surviving member of the original faculty that started the University of Kentucky's College of Law. And he is the last man alive of the battery of lawyers who crossed legal blades in the celebrated trial of Caleb Powers for the murder of Governor William C. Goebel at the turn of the century.

Despite his advanced age there's noting senile about T. E. Moore Jr., the "Mountain Blackstone" who first came to Hazard when this Perry County seat was but a village with a muddy Main Street only two blocks long, and the business houses were one-story frame buildings constantly threatened with fire and flood.

An omnivorous reader, Moore keeps posted on the news, and he is an avid U.K. sports fan. He is sorry that Babe Parilli won't be back next fall to do the passing but is sure Kentucky will have a good football team anyway, built around Bunky Gruner. And while Hagan and Ramsey are still around he isn't worried about the fate of the basketball team.

A conversation with the spruce little attorney is more or less a one-way proposition, with him doing the talking, he is as deaf as James Whitcomb Riley's "Grandfather Squeers, who often wore lightning rods over his ears." He doesn't bother with a hearing aid, but a written question will set him off on a dissertation on almost any subject. He loves people and he likes to talk between puffs on his pipe. The pipe is kept polished, as black and shiny as his well kept shoes. And his neat, blue suit never seems to get the slightest bit rumpled.

Young Moore, a Bourbon County native, made his first trip to Hazard on horseback from Olympian Springs in Estill County shortly after he had been admitted to the bar back in 1896. He still chuckles - and no doubt aches a bit - in recounting that rugged journey through the mountains, following dim trails across the ridges and creek beds up and down the hollows.. Although raised in the horse country, he hadn't done much riding before he took that trip, so he took it easy the first day - to Cutshin in Leslie County, tired and sore. Another day's agonizing riding and he hit the head of Leatherwood in Perry County. He was ready for a rest when he rode into the village of Hazard on the evening of the fourth day. Then he rode to Hindman, 22 miles away, and down swift-running Troublesome Creek to Jackson and back to Olympian Springs. Moore was inspecting vast timber acreage of his father-in-law on that trip. He recalls that there was on tract of 23,000 acres in Breathitt County, as well as huge expanses in other mountain counties, all bought for about a $1 an acre. It was a saddle-sore young man who finished that trip after averaging more than 50 miles a day on horseback for a week.

Not long after his mountain trek, Moore took a shot at politics and was elected Bourbon County attorney. He was practicing at Paris when Caleb Powers, later to serve for many years as congressman from the original 11th District, went on trial at Georgetown as one of those accused of assassinating Governor Goebel. As one of the lawyers in the case, it was Moore's job to help select a jury from the 400 veniremen summoned. "Which side were you on?" he was asked (there's always a pencil and pad on his desk for that purpose). "As the son of a Rebel soldier," he replied, "you ought to know I wouldn't have been defending that Republican." From Moore's point of view, it was an excellent jury. It returned a verdict of guilty and fixed Powers' penalty at death. But the Barbourville Republican got a new trial. Next time it was life, then a pardon, and Powers lived to represent his district in the House of Representatives. Moore can remember most of the details of those trials of 1900, even to questions asked jurors and witnesses and the names of the many attorneys who asked them.

When the law school was organized at the University of Kentucky in 1908, Moore was chosen as one of three professors. Still entranced with the Kentucky mountains, he came to Hazard in 1916 to stay. 1952

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